We here at Massively were watching closely and taking notes, so if you didn't get the chance to watch the video then no worries! As we said before, we have your back and we're ready to take you headlong into the blood and corruption of Age of Conan's expansion.
Obvious things first -- the play field of today's preview was huge. The single province of Khitai shown today is a wide, sprawling area that includes environmental changes, multiple cities, and indoor/outdoor areas all without a single load screen in sight. Even the open areas will undergo environmental changes, such as the colors of the sky changing along with weather effects, to show a delineation between areas in the play field. For example, the marshes will become thick with fog and darker the deeper you get into them. One of the main things the team wanted to accomplish was to provide more open areas for players to roam around in, and if this province is any example of the other areas in the expansion then Age of Conan players will have many wide-open areas to look forward to.
To travel the lands of Khitai, the developers used the new tiger mount today. While there's not much to say about the mount other than it's a pretty tiger and it can roar on command, the questline for getting the mount is quite involved. Players will be involved in training the mount from a cub all the way up to adulthood thanks to a string of quests involving the mount itself.
Monster AI is also another focus of the expansion, as the developers wanted to keep encounters fresh and different instead of just becoming another set of slugfests with new monsters. Today's preview showed off multiple new enemies, such as the firebirds that run away from melee players until they're tapped by a ranged attack (which makes the rest of the flock stick their heads in the ground, leaving them open for melee players), water buffalo that remain neutral until one of their cubs are attacked, wolves that attack with a pack mentality, and monsters that attempt to ambush players.
Topping all of this off was the battlefield that rages onwards in the heart of today's play field. Two factions, the Tamarain Tigers and the Scholars of Cheng'ho, constantly fight in a war-torn area of the province. Players will be able to join a side of the battle and fight against the other faction's NPCs and players in order to rank up with the faction and get special equipment, armor, and other benefits. Of course this means tanking your reputation with the other side, much like a Scryers/Aldor approach from World of Warcraft.
Lastly, exploration nuts can cheer happily thanks to the addition of shrines and dig sites. Dig sites are new patches of dirt that denote areas where players can dig with shovels to uncover quests and items, while shrines are a bit more of an esoteric achievement. The shrines of Khitai are both found in cities and hidden away in the far reaches of the play field. Players who know their lore or do a little bit of experimentation can honor the gods of the shrine with the right emotes, giving them a temporary buff from the gods. Do the wrong emote, however, and you'll find your character cursed and debuffed for being ignorant.
All in all, Khitai seems very different from the Age of Conan we know and love today. So far the changes look quite positive for the game, but only time will tell how much the team has learned from their prior mistakes.